I am running for Minnesota State Representative in Lakeville's District 58A this Tuesday.
Our legislature must make our economy ripe for a recovery.
Here are five actions our legislature could have taken on jobs, but did not.
1. Spur private investment.
My opponent voted against the Angel Investment Credit, which encourages investors to make early-stage investments in Minnesota companies. The problem with voting against these credits is that most states have them. Minnesota must compete with states around the country to win new and exciting businesses. When other states offer credits for investors who take a big risk, their local companies look far more attractive to investors.
Every economist agrees that early investment capital matters more than low taxes in determining where companies are founded. Early stage companies do not pay much in taxes.
2. Reduce Health Care Costs
In all of my opponents' fourteen years in the legislature, she has never proposed any solution to skyrocketing healthcare costs. This has been the greatest issue facing businesses since NFIB first called it the "#1 impediment to business" back in the 1980s. Health care costs grew at a shocking 10% rate per year since then.
Imagine you want to start a business. Which is the greater concern for you: lower tax rates or losing your business the moment you become quite ill?
Keep in mind that you mostly pay taxes on net profits, which most new businesses do not have for the first two years.
States like Vermont have passed a far more effective health care system that will soon save business owners from losing their young businesses over health costs. We should pass something similar.
3. Reduce Property Taxes
Most new businesses do not pay corporate income taxes. That's a simple fact. You only pay income taxes on net profits and pass-through income.
For the first year or two owning a business, you work the hardest you can to reduce your fixed costs and grow your bottom line. However, most business owners start in the red. It is not cheap to get started. Since a new business is so sensitive to small increases in fixed costs, only property taxes matter to most new business owners.
My opponent not only voted for property tax increases, she chief authored a bill to increase them.
In her time in the legislature, she pushed every year to stop state education spending from growing with inflation. However, teacher and staff health care costs grew 10% per year. This forced local school districts to pick up the tab with layoffs and property tax increases.
As a result, property taxes doubled while my opponent has been in office. This is unacceptable for new business owners, farmers, and our fixed income seniors.
4. Create More Trained Workers
Every technology business in our state is feeling a crunch. There are not enough highly-trained workers with the skills we need.
By 2018, seventy percent of all new jobs will require a college degree or technical school. That makes our state #1 in the country needing higher education since we have so many good, high-paying jobs available. Entrepreneurs cannot fill them.
My opponent voted to borrow $24 million from Lakeville Schools last year to balance the budget with no plan to pay it back. She authored a bill last year to cut the university system by 20%. She also voted against the Minnesota GI Bill.
I am not surprised by this. The Coalition of Minnesota Businesses represents large companies like Walmart. Most of these businesses need a large number of poorly-trained workers to fill retail jobs. These jobs pay so little that a good number of their employees need welfare programs. However, they do not hire the bulk of Minnesota's workers.
The Coalition of Minnesota Businesses actually sent me a glossly mailer arguing that we must cut schools and not grow spending to meet real inflation. That short-sighted and self-serving position actually harms at least eighty percent of employers in our state. They are the largest pro-Republican PAC and they give lots of money to people like my opponent to see these ideas become law.
We cannot make short-sighted decisions. Now is not the time to show contempt for higher learning. Tuition has tripled while my opponent was in office. We need workers and only our public universities can provide enough of them to meet demand.
5. Reduce the Risk of Hiring
Companies only hire when there is demand for their products or if they think they can get added profit from hiring. No business ever hires simply because they have cash in their coffers.
When the economy is growing and still looking weak, every business sees great risk to hiring. What happens if the economy takes a turn and you have to lay off new employees that you just spent thousands of dollars training?
Germany actually came up with a good solution to this. They passed a "short time work" program that offers unemployment insurance when companies cut hours rather than simply laying them off. This allows the company to keep the workers and their expertise. When the economy turns the corner, they do not need to pay rehiring, retraining, nor severance costs. Hardly anyone lost their house or job due to unemployment. As a result, Germany rebounded the quickest from the 2008 recession.
Many states have passed such a program. I believe Minnesota should as well. As an entrepreneur, I understand that hiring an employee is a great risk that may never pay off for a number of reasons. Minnesota businesses should not be so afraid to hire.
If elected on Tuesday, I promise to take action to increase the number of high-paying jobs. All five steps above are required and must be taken seriously by our leaders. I will work tirelessly to create new jobs in our state.